I have a theory as to why so many Americans are unhappy nowadays.
It’s because we don’t wear wool socks, and our feet are always cold.
I took a picture of a line in a text book a little while back. It said the production of sheep in the United States is relatively unimportant, and I wrote briefly about in a previous post.
When we are telling agriculture students across the country that one sector in the industry isn’t very important, here’s what we get: cold feet. Which leads to unhappy people. Which leads to unhappy lives and low productivity and burnt suppers and all kinds of stuff that could all have been prevented by simply wearing wool socks.
Of course, there are many factors contributing to the sock purchases we make. One of these is availability. It is hard to find pure wool socks in small stores in rural areas. Much of the time, they can be found only in sporting goods or specialty stores.
Another major factor is price. Wool socks are now more expensive than man-made materials. But what do we get from many man-made materials? Cold feet and toes that poke through the end of the sock after a month or two.
I also could talk about how valuing our money over other areas of life has been detrimental in so many ways, but that would be a tangent and a distraction from the current and necessary topic of why sheep are still important.
So, here are six reasons why sheep are still important:
THEY PROVIDE FOOD.
Lamb is a lean and tender meat that is a healthy choice for lunch or dinner (or even breakfast with lamb breakfast burritos). And just like beef, the meat is quality graded with the top choices as Prime and Choice. While we most often save lamb for special occasions, it is a meat that can be enjoyed year round. It is common in Mediterranean countries so could be considered a part of the currently popular Mediterranean diet.
In Greece, lamb is not even considered a meat, illustrated by My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Milking sheep also is becoming a popular endeavor, and some farms add value to the operation by selling cheese and other sheep dairy products.
THEY PROVIDE CLOTHING AND DECOR.
Various breeds of sheep have various types of wool. Merino wool is the finest in the world. Our shearer once told of a dress made out of Merino wool that was so fine he could fold it up and fit it in his hand. Herdwicks have tough wool perfect for tweed jackets, insulation and long-lasting carpets. SmartWool comes from sheep with PhDs.
And wool is a renewable resource. It grows back after shearing, and if sheep are not shorn, they start to look like Shrek, the ram that lived in a New Zealand cave and avoided the spring shearing for six years.
Here is Shrek:
It took half an hour to shear off all that wool. Usually, it takes five to ten minutes to shear a sheep.
THEY ARE INEXPENSIVE, UNCOMPLAINING AND ECOFRIENDLY LAWN MOWERS
Experiencing problems finding someone to mow the lawn without complaining? Paying high prices for a machine? Concerned about the environment?
No more! A couple of sheep will do the trick. And they’ll fertilize as they go. No more roaring motors from neighbors who mow the lawn too early. Instead, you’ll hear contented bleats and munch munch (especially if you have red clover in your lawn).
THEY ARE PEACEFUL TO WATCH.
One of Indiana’s premier shepherds once said that he enjoyed just watching his flock go about their day: eating hay, walking around, lying down to chew their cud, lambs playing and wagging their tails….He said it was calming.
I have done the same. After a rough day, I could go out to the barn and see happy lambs and relax, feeling peaceful again.
THEY PROVIDE ENTERTAINMENT AND WARM, FUZZY PICTURES FOR BRIGHTENING OUR DAYS.
Here you go:
THEY TEACH US WHY WE ARE CALLED SHEEP SO OFTEN.
Sheep are nearsighted, so they run into things a lot when they’re trying to run away. This is the reason they’re so often called stupid. They follow the crowd, even if it means falling off a cliff as in the classic, Far From the Madding Crowd. They also are stubborn, yet kind. They are curious and smile. Working with the sheep, we gain a better appreciation for and awareness of our own personalities.
So go out and buy some wool socks. Don’t be baaaaashful. Your toes will be happy ewe did.